Opinion: Teachers must stop undermining parental values
Teachers are hired to educate students, not indoctrinate them.
When parents send their children to school, they place great trust in teachers. It is important that teachers do not undermine this trust.
Unfortunately, some teachers have not learned this lesson.
For example, last year a school posted a message on its outdoor sign stating that agriculture affects the oceans and that chemicals used in agriculture harm habitats and species. This school is in the predominantly agricultural community of Outlook, Saskatchewan. Community members were unimpressed and expressed their displeasure to school officials.
Meanwhile, some Alberta teachers are using their position to attack the oil industry, one of that province’s biggest employers. Considering how many Alberta parents work in the resource sector, it’s bizarre that an Alberta teacher thinks it’s a good idea to indoctrinate students against resource development.
Then we have the situation in Ontario where, earlier this year, a Toronto teacher circulated a list of anti-Israel resources to fellow educators. Although this teacher was initially suspended, the school district ultimately chose not to take any disciplinary action. As a result, this teacher continues to promote his anti-Israel views throughout the district.
One can only imagine how offensive that would be to the many Jewish families who live in Toronto. Sending your children into a learning environment where your identity is under attack is not appealing. It certainly does little to build trust between parents and teachers.
In each of these situations, the teachers used their position to promote their personal political views. However, teachers are hired to educate students, not indoctrinate them. A teacher who cannot resist asserting his personal convictions at school should work for a pressure group and not for a school division.
Unfortunately, many teacher unions do poorly in modeling appropriate behavior. Visit the website of a major teachers’ union and you’ll usually find a heavy dose of woke ideology and even blatant support for one political party over another.
Given the way union leaders promote political activism, it’s no surprise that many teachers, especially those new to the profession, assume it’s their duty to impose their beliefs” correct” to their students.
Fortunately, we can do better. Instead of being on a mission to transform the school community in their image, teachers should focus on educating their students and keep their politics out of the classroom. Classrooms should be places of learning and exploration, not centers of indoctrination.
If you are a teacher and your overriding goal is to convert students to your personal ideology, you will almost certainly alienate their parents. Trust will soon be broken.
The reality is that if parents don’t trust their local school, they will eventually withdraw their children. Fewer students in public education means less funding for those schools and fewer teachers hired. Ultimately, breaking trust with the local community leads to long-term damage to schools.
Teachers should focus on educating students so they can make up their own minds about politics. Any teacher who cannot do this should seek another career.
If teachers value their work, they will work with parents, not against them. Breaking trust with parents is always a bad idea.
Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, senior fellow at the Frontier Center for Public Policy, and author of A sage on stage: Common sense reflections on teaching and learning.
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